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Mentor Spotlight: Beth Jolly

April 26, 2018

By Camp Campbell

Beth Jolly has been part of Camp Campbell from the very beginning, attending and participating in almost every single event across our network of chapters. As Chief of Staff to the CEO and Director of Internal Communications, she had a front-row seat to the transformation that Campbell has experienced under CEO Denise Morrison’s leadership. Speaking of transformation, Beth recently made an internal “jump” to VP of Sales Communications & Industry Affairs. We thought it was the perfect time to check in with her about what prompted this career move, how she manages to have it all, and her top communication tips for those of us navigating the corporate or startup worlds.

 

After 12+ years in Communications at Campbell, you recently took on a new role in the Sales division as Vice President of Sales Communications & Industry Affairs. What inspired you to make this career shift?

I wanted to continue to grow in my career and develop new capabilities.  I did an honest assessment of what skills I had and what skills I needed to build and enhance.  I had been focused primarily on internal communications for the last decade and realized I needed to expand my external and industry knowledge.  The role in sales was a way to gain that experience, while also leveraging my communications background.

 

How did you prepare for this transition and what (if any) challenges have you encountered?

I leveraged my network and found a few key people to serve as “translators” for my new role.  While I had been at Campbell for nearly 15 years, I realized my sales vocabulary was limited.  The translators were my safety net, and allowed me to ask what to them must have been the dumbest questions in the world.  The time they spent with me was critical to helping me get off to a fast start.  I also thought I knew everything there was to know about our brands and products, but came to the quick realization that I had breadth, but not depth, of knowledge.  I took the opportunity to become a student of our business and be a sponge to soak up new information.

 

Communications can be quite a stressful environment to operate in. Have you developed any best practices or “hacks” for managing stress? 

I’m not sure I’ve mastered stress management quite yet!  I’m a to-do list type of person and find that in a stressful situation, it’s worth my time to look at my list and prioritize.  Then, I feel better as I’m able to check something off.  Also, I have a long commute to work and sometimes turn on some of my favorite songs to sing along to.  I’m sure I look very odd on the highway belting out the lyrics, but it works for me!  And if all else fails, I have a M&M dispenser in my office!

 

With the rise of social media, companies are a lot more exposed to public opinion and criticism. What has been your approach to communicating responsibly in the midst of communications crises? Do you have any advice for founders trying to navigate a situation like this? 

Don’t overreact, but at the same time, be ready to react.  One cryptic Tweet or critical Instagram post does not mean the sky is falling.  Yet, founders must be able to judge if it is a lone dissenter or a bigger issue is brewing.  It’s also very easy to get emotional in crises situations and immediately personalize the issue.  It’s important to be able to take a step back and rationally assess the right response (or non-response) in these types of situations.

 

Over the past 5 years, you’ve had the privilege of working very closely with CEO Denise Morrison in your role as Director of Communications and her Chief of Staff. What is the most valuable lesson you learned from her?

Wear flats and pack your heels!  Only kidding – sort of!  In all seriousness, Denise has shown me the importance of being disciplined about your career plan, that you have to begin with the end in mind.  If you don’t know where you ultimately want to get to, it’s impossible to go anywhere.  She has helped me be honest with myself on my capabilities and goals and has been an incredible supporter to help shape my career path along the way.

 

Developing good communications skills is critical for any aspiring leader, particularly when it comes to management. What best practices have you learned throughout your career in Communications that can be applied to management and culture building — both at large companies and startups?

Over-communication is a good thing.  Just because you feel you’ve heard the message a thousand times already or think that “everybody knows that,” chances are that there is someone that hasn’t.  One of the things I try to do with presentations or messages is to use the same few slides or words upfront.  While at times to even me it can seem redundant, it makes the people more receptive to the message you’re trying to disseminate, as you’re building from an established foundation.

 

You’re a mom of two with a demanding job which requires you to spend quite a bit of time on the road. If you could recommend one investment or perk for women trying to juggle work and family, what would it be?

The decision to hire a cleaning service that comes to my house every other week lifted an incredible burden and relieved a lot of guilt.  I wanted to have a great job and I knew I needed to travel for it.  I also wanted to be able to spend quality time with my family.  Those two things were not possible if I was going to spend every weekend cleaning.  Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that has a hard time letting go, so I debated it for too long. Ultimately, I prioritized where I wanted to spend my time, and quickly determined it was not scrubbing my bathroom.  Looking back now, I can’t believe I hesitated for a second!

 

What lesson(s) do you wish you had learned earlier on in your career?

The importance of delegation.  I wanted to do everything myself and felt that it was the best way to demonstrate my value.  While it did at first, and I developed a great reputation as very good executor, I then struggled to establish my strategic capabilities.  I learned that I needed to empower my team to do the work with me, which only increased our productivity and enhanced my leadership ability.